Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Warriors To Camp In SA And Bafana Bafana

ZIFA are not leaving anything to chance ahead of the Warriors' decisive African Cup of Nations showdown with Angola and are planning on shifting the senior team's training camp for the final qualifier to South Africa next week. The Warriors, carrying a 3-1 lead achieved in the first leg of the final qualifying round at Rufaro on September 9, will travel to Luanda for the reverse fixture on October 14.
Despite taking what appears a comfortable lead both the Warriors and the Zifa administration have made it clear that they are not under any illusion on the tough task that awaits them in Luanda.
In fact, the Warriors are bracing themselves for the bruising battle and Zifa on their part believe they have to do everything within their means to ensure Rahman Gumbo and his men hang onto their first leg lead and seal their place at the 2013 Nations Cup finals.
Should they qualify for the tournament scheduled for January and February in South Africa, it would only be the Warriors' third appearance at the continental soccer showcase.
Zifa believe the Warriors need to be fully focused and in the best shape physically and mentally to withstand the heat in the crunch and yet decisive encounter they will face in Luanda.
It is against this background that Zifa chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, revealed yesterday that they had lined up an ambitious plan, which will see the Warriors holding a rare training camp in South Africa.
Zifa have also tentatively agreed with the South African Football Association for an international friendly between the Warriors and Bafana Bafana on October 16, a day after the senior team's expected return from Luanda.
But, for now, the Warriors are more concerned with securing their place among the 16 teams that will line up at the Nations Cup finals before they can turn their attention to any friendly internationals.
Mashingaidze said by shifting the camp to South Africa, it would also mean that all the foreign-based professionals called up for the massive assignment in Luanda would not need to fly to Harare from their club bases.
Instead Gumbo, his lieutenants — David Mandigora, Peter Ndlovu, Richard Tswatswa and the medical team — and the local players, would leave for Harare for Johannesburg on October 8, with training expected to start the following day in South Africa's commercial capital.
Mashingaidze said the decision to shift the training base to South Africa was also on the strong recommendation of former FC Platinum coach Gumbo with Zifa concurring after also noting that it was a cost-effective exercise.
Of the 24 players named in Gumbo's provisional squad, 14 of them are foreign-based who would have needed to fly to Harare after their various club assignments and would need to be in camp in time for the Warriors departure for Luanda.
Gumbo was last month not amused with the manner in which his players trooped into camp for the first leg against the Palancas Negras.
The coach only managed a full training session with all his charges on a Thursday morning before playing a warm-up game against Premiership side Harare City later on that day.
Mashingaidze said Zifa had taken note of the problems that characterised the build-up to the first leg clash at Rufaro and were keen to plug all the loopholes before the Warriors descend on Luanda.
"Bafana Bafana want to play the Warriors on 16 October when they will be making their way from Luanda and as Zifa we are finalising with our counterparts at Safa on that.
"We are also planning a training camp in Johannesburg which will ease on the travel of the players from their various bases and it is also cost effective.
"From South Africa the team will travel direct to Angola on Friday mid-morning and the game will be on Sunday.
"This is the mother of all battles and as the administration we will stand guided by the coach and his technical team on his requirements. Our beat is to avail all the resources to the team and leave all technical issues to the coach and his lieutenants,'' Mashingaidze said.
The Zifa chief executive also shed light on some questions surrounding the possibility of fans travelling to Luanda for the decisive clash.
"It is also important to understand that for this big battle Zifa's core business is to ensure the players and the team are catered for and whatever initiatives there are for the supporters it should be separated from the team . . . that should be up to the individuals or groups.
"As the board we want the Warriors to remain focused. In as much as we want the 12th man at every match, it must be appreciated that the world over whether it is Brazil, Cote d' Ivoire, Nigeria, England or even Angola when they came here, the supporters make their own travel arrangements and sometimes travel a day or two before the match.
"We don't want Rahman to blame the administration for any failure so we believe that people should just grant Rahman and his team their wishes. If they want to camp in Beitbridge, in Hwange or Muzarabani, it's their wish and it has to be respected.
"But the most ideal camp for this fixture is in South Africa which guarantees a high-performance camp and it will also take the Warriors away from any domestic pressure that may arise from families, friends or other sectors.
"It is also cost effective on the part of the association in that the bulk of the foreign legion are in South Africa and the few who will come from Europe will also fly direct to Johannesburg without having to face the hassles of connecting flights,'' Mashingaidze said.
Zifa's decision to shift the training camp to South Africa also means that Gumbo will have the rare luxury of retaining until the last day of training, everyone he called up for the big battle.
The coach would have been forced to cut down his squad to the travelling 18 after just a day or two of the training camp.
By Sbue
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device